Special Guests
Saturday, May 13, 2000

Randy Newman

RANDY NEWMAN was born in Los Angeles to a musical family—two of his uncles, Alfred and Lionel Newman, were legendary film composers. He began playing the piano as a child, and moved into songwriting and recording as a teen. While a student at UCLA, he cut his first single, “Golden Gridiron Boy.” At about the same time, he started working as a professional songwriter, earning $100 a month as a staff writer for Metric Music. His songs were recorded by such artists as The Fleetwoods, Judy Collins, Manfred Mann, and Gene Pitney, before Reprise Records signed him as an artist in his own right in 1967. He released his self-titled debut album the following year. Randy Newman Live was recorded at New York’s Bitter End in 1971 and included his humorous asides. While Randy Newman Live is considered to be his breakthrough, 1977’s “Short People,” from his Little Criminals album, was a #2 Billboard hit and brought both notoriety and controversy. While continuing to record, Newman first ventured into film music in the early ’70s, as music director for Performance and composer for Cold Turkey. His score for the 1981 film Ragtime brought his first Academy Award nod, and the soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy. Subsequent film scores include The Natural, Parenthood, Awakenings, Toy Story (1 & 2), A Bug’s Life, and Pleasantville. In 1996, his musical based on Faust premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse. Newman has received 12 Academy Award nominations, has won multiple Grammy and Emmy awards, and was the first recipient of ASCAP’s Henry Mancini Award for lifetime achievement. Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman (Rhino Records), a four-CD retrospective featuring highlights of his album and cinematic work, was released in 1998, and the 35-song Randy Newman Anthology Songbook was published last year. 1999’s Bad Love (DreamWorks Records) is Newman’s most recent recording.

Nickel Creek

NICKEL CREEK started out as a quartet of musicians from two families—the Thiles and the Watkins. They began playing together in the San Diego area over 10 years ago, when three of the four were not yet teenagers. The line-up at that time included Chris Thile (now 19) on mandolin, Sara Watkins (now 18) on fiddle, Sean Watkins (now 23) on guitar, and Chris’ dad Scott Thile on bass. The two families met at a pizza parlor where they went regularly to hear the Southern California band Bluegrass Etc. Chris and Sean had each been studying with the band’s mandolin player, while Sara studied with their fiddler. For the sake of balance, Chris originally played guitar with the group, but as time went by, he yearned to get back to the mandolin. At about the same time, Sean developed an affinity for the guitar, so they switched instruments and have been happy with their decision ever since. In 1994, the band won the Southwest regional division of the Pizza Hut International Bluegrass Band Showdown. The group’s members have had success individually as well. At 15, Sara won the Arizona State Fiddle Championship. Sean was a finalist in the National Flatpicking Guitar Champion-ship at 16, and recently signed with Sugar Hill for a solo guitar album. Chris has recorded two solo projects for Sugar Hill, and has been a finalist for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Mandolinist of the Year four years running. The band’s first album was the self-released Here to There. Their newest release is a self-titled CD on Sugar Hill produced by Alison Krauss. Dad Scott Thile has been cutting back on his appearances with the group, so bassist Kevin Hennessey joins Chris, Sean, and Sara for this afternoon’s performance.

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

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